Food remains scarce in Chelsea; number of infections continue to rise

CHELSEA, Mass. — More help is on the way for people in Chelsea. On Friday, Chelsea Office of Emergency Management got a large order of personal protective equipment. This will help the medical facility with the hundreds of COVID-19 tests they are doing.

The city needs all the help they can get as people are struggling to get food.

"It’s getting worse and worse,” said Fidel Maltez, the Chelsea Commissioner of Public Works.

Through Zoom, reporter Malini Basu spoke with Fidel Maltez, the Chelsea Commissioner of Public Works. He walked us through what the line for food was like on Friday morning. The picture was no different from when we were there one week ago. Except today, families, some with small children waited in the rain, wind, and cold for hours.

>> Previous: Countless families stand in line hoping to get food in Chelsea

“Folks are really struggling to put food on their table,” said Maltez.

As the infection rate increases, the desperation for food only grows in the city of at least 40,000. As of Friday, there were more than 1,100 people that tested positive for the COVID-19 and nearly 100 deaths.

“We have been doing two pop-up pantries every day. We rotate in two different locations that are accommodating for people,” said Maltez.

City officials are trying to come up with a system where they are keeping tabs on who got food, and who didn’t, by using a black marker. The meals being handed out are meant for two people that should last a week.

“We started asking folks their address, just so we can keep a tally of where they are coming from,” said Maltez.

For others, they are struggling to keep a roof over their head.

“We are rolling out a rental assistance program that our affordable housing trust fund board appropriated $1.25 million to help people with rent,” said Tom Ambrosino, the Chelsea City Manager.

“If you don’t get a box one day, we are hoping you will be fed the next. We ask people to be patient as we ramp up the number of boxes we can do at each of these sites,” said Ambrosino.

Basu asked Chris Farrand with the Salvation Army, what if people can’t leave their house and they’re elderly?

“The need being so big, it’s this idea of neighbor helping neighbor. It has to be everyone helping. The need is so explosive,” said Chris Farrand.

Social distancing is hard for the city of immigrants, as it’s densely populated with mostly essential workers in the service industry.

“Sixty percent of our residents report that they are food insecure. That means they have to make the tough decision of buying food or paying for rent,” said Fidel.

People in Chelsea who can’t get out are being asked to call 311 directly. The city is making arrangements for meals delivered to your doorstep.

Also, if you have tested positive for the virus, you can social distance yourself at the nearby Quality Inn. Doctors are on hand, and you will get three meals a day.

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